14-Day Countdown to 13GE: Unhealthy Federal-State relations where Negri Sembilan State Assembly automatically dissolved midnight last night because of a ‘kiasu’ and ‘kiasi’ Prime Minister

Another dubious record by Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia – Malaysian history’s first ‘automatic’ dissolution of a State Assembly at midnight last night not because of a conscious and deliberate decision by the Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar but because of a ‘kiasu’ and ‘kiasi’ Prime Minister embroiled in a Hamlet agony unable to decide when to dissolve Parliament for fear of becoming the last Umno/BN Prime Minister.

The automatic dissolution of the Negri Sembilan State Assembly last night, with Negri Sembilan now without a single elected State Assembly members in the sixty days until May 26 – the last date for the election of the new Negri Sembilan State Assembly – is a major blow to healthy Federal-state relations, as it is a classic case where a State Government has been deprived of its constitutional right to seek a new mandate from the electorate solely because of extraneous and even unconstitutional considerations – the indecisiveness of the Prime Minister!

This is not the Federal-state relations which the country’s forefathers and the founders of the country’s Constitution had ever envisaged or desired more than half a century ago – for the autonomy, independence and prerogatives of each state government in the federation of Malaysia is to be jealously protected and honoured.

I am sure if Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Tan Cheng Lock or Tun Sambanthan had been asked 56 years ago whether under the 1957 Merdeka Federal Constitution a state government would be deprived of the power and have to surrender its prerogative to dissolve the State Assembly to seek a new mandate at the end of its five-year term to the Prime Minister until he could decide when to dissolve Parliament, the answer from all the fathers of Merdeka would be a loud, clear-cut and categorical “No! No! No!”

In the circumstances, the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan had been a party to the subversion of the Negri Sembilan State Constitution and the development of healthy and proper Federal-state relations in allowing the Prime Minister to usurp his powers to dictate that the Negri Sembilan State Assembly goes for “automatic dissolution” to suit the scheme of things decided by the Prime Minister – a clear and open subversion of the independence, autonomy and prerogatives of state constitution and powers!

It is now to be seen whether the other State Governments and State Constitutions would be similarly subverted and violated by the Prime Minister and the Federal Government like the case of Negri Sembilan – i.e. Pahang on April 7 and Johore and Malacca on April 21 where the two State Assemblies would automatically dissolved, not because of any deliberate and conscious decision of the heads of the state governments but to suit the agenda of the Prime Minister!

The Pakatan Rakyat-run states of Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan should not allow their state constitutions, rights, powers and prerogatives to be subverted in this fashion by the Prime Minister and the Federal Government, and I agree with the Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim that the four PR states should consider whether they should go for automatic dissolution of their State Assemblies (Selangor’s state assembly will be automatically dissolved on April 22) to humour the Prime Minister or whether they should act on the merits of the issue, fully protecting state government rights, powers and prerogatives from being usurped by the Prime Minister and Federal Government, on when they want to dissolve their respective State Assemblies.

It is interesting to read of reasons which are being trotted out to justify Najib’s true Hamlet-style indecisiveness on when to hold the long-awaited 13GE, including the ongoing Sabah Sulu crisis which has seen the establishment of the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) covering 10 districts namely Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

Other reasons for Najib’s still waiting for the “inspiration” to dissolve Parliament include his intention to announce his four-year report card as Prime Minister (a confession that his earlier report card on his National Transformation Agenda had been a complete flop), his inability to finalise the BN’s candidates’ list and most unbelieveable of all, his intention to attend the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Brunei on April 24 as a “full-fledged leader” instead of as a caretaker Prime Minister!

All these are mounting signs of a Prime Minister who is very “jittery” about when to dissolve Parliament and to call for the long-delayed 13GE because of his fear of the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat, despite denial by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

But Nazri may be on to something when he said, in response to a media question, that the 13GE may be held in May.

April or May, Najib has at most another five weeks before Parliament will be dissolved automatically, for the first time in the nation’s 56-year history, and if there is going to be simultaneous Parliament/State Assembly 13GE, the polling date must be by 24th May (the deadline for the holding of elections for the Negri Sembilan State Assembly) – or in eight weeks’ time.

Najib has lost all the advantages of incumbency where the Prime Minister can choose the most ideal time to dissolve Parliament and to hold the 13GE.

With eight weeks left for simultaneous Parliament/State Assembly elections to be held, what could Najib achieve in the next eight weeks which could redound to his credit but which he could not achieve for more than four years as the longest unelected Prime Minister?

Nothing much at all. This is why Tun Mahathir said he would have held the 13GE last year, when he commented:

“If I was the prime minister, I would have called for elections last year. All this waiting… one month, two months, three months… it just never stops.

“I was expecting elections to be held last year but because I’m not prime minister it didn’t happen.”

DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur
Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Thursday, 28th March 2013